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What Is Yankee White?

By John Markley
Updated: May 17, 2024

Yankee white refers to the security clearance necessary to work with the president or vice president of the United States. It is a necessary qualification for a wide variety of positions, such as aides to the president and vice president; support personnel in areas such as food service, medical care, and transportation; and members of honor guards, military bands, and other ceremonial positions. This security clearance is required of both military personnel and civilian government employees working for the president as well as employees of private-sector civilian contractors who provide services for the president or have access to sensitive areas such as presidential residences or vehicles. Receiving this clearance requires extensive background checks intended to weed out potential security risks.

Three categories make up the Yankee white security clearance. Category one is for sensitive positions working in direct support of the president or vice president. These include important members of the White House Military Office, such as the security adviser, the food service coordinator, and the director of the medical unit. It also includes the commanding and executive officers of several military units or facilities closely involved with the president or vice president, including Marine Helicopter Squadron One, the Air Force's 89th Airlift Wing, and Naval Support Facility Thurmon, better known as Camp David.

Category two encompasses other, lower-level supporting personnel for the president and vice president. This includes the personnel of support organizations such as the White House communications agency, travel agency, and medical unit. It also includes the air crew, maintenance crew, and other associated personnel of the president's air transport, most notably Air Force One. Employees of private contractors hired for presidential support services also go in this category. Category three is mostly for members of honor guards and military bands, though it can also be used for other personnel who are in contact with the president or vice president, but to a lesser degree than the members of category one or two.

A person receiving Yankee white clearance must first undergo thorough background checks. This process involves personal interviews with both the person being considered for clearance and his or her friends, family, and other acquaintances and checks on things such as the person's employment history, medical history, and previous places of residence. After receiving Yankee white clearance, the clearance holder must undergo periodic subsequent checks to determine his or her continued suitability.

To be eligible for Yankee white clearance, a person must be an American citizen whose loyalty to the United States is considered to be beyond question and who has proved himself or herself to be mature and trustworthy in past performances. D conviction for a serious crime in a civilian court or military court-martial is disqualifying, as is a history of recurring trouble with the law or use of illegal mind-altering drugs other than marijuana. Yankee white clearance is less likely to be given to someone with a past history of marijuana use or immediate family members who are citizens of other countries, though these are not absolute disqualifications.

America Explained is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By jamesbergman — On May 03, 2016

Yankee white is kind of a strange name for this kind of security clearance. However, it is probably a good idea to have it. It kind of makes me wonder if I would be able to pass this kind of background check. It can't be much worse than the clearance checks for other jobs, right?

By anon282693 — On Jul 31, 2012

Yankee white isn't a security clearance. It's the type of investigation conducted for people who support the president.

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